Thomas Hardy (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)
Genoa and the Mediterranean (March, 1887)
O epic-famed, god-haunted Central Sea,
Heave careless of the deep wrong done to thee
When from Torino's track I saw thy face first flash on me.
And multimarbled Genova the Proud,
Gleam all unconscious how, wide-lipped, up-browed,
I first beheld thee clad--not as the Beauty but the Dowd.
Out from a deep-delved way my vision lit
On housebacks pink, green, ochreous--where a slit
Shoreward 'twixt row and row revealed the classic blue through it.
And thereacross waved fishwives' high-hung smocks,
Chrome kerchiefs, scarlet hose, darned underfrocks;
Since when too oft my dreams of thee, O Queen, that frippery mocks:
Whereat I grieve, Superba! . . . Afterhours
Within Palazzo Doria's orange bowers
Went far to mend these marrings of thy soul-subliming powers.
But, Queen, such squalid undress none should see,
Those dream-endangering eyewounds no more be
Where lovers first behold thy form in pilgrimage to thee.
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